Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Frank Cable (AS-40)


Frank Taylor Cable, an early pioneer in submarine development for the U.S. Navy. Born on 19 June 1863 at New Milford, Conn., he spent the first 25 years of his life on his father’s farm, before attending Calverick College at Hudson, N.Y., and Franklin and Drexel Institutes, Philadelphia, Pa. Cable married Nettie A. Hungerford (1870–1959) on 29 May 1892.

He became associated with the Holland Torpedo Boat Co., in 1897. Designer and entrepreneur John P. Holland developed submarine Holland VI, which he launched on 17 May 1897 at Crescent Shipyard in Elizabethport, N.J. While she fitted-out there in mid-October, however, a workman carelessly left one of the hatches to the boat’s sea valves open and she sank at the pier. Salt water covered the entire electrical plant, and Holland asked Cable, who had experience working with the dynamos, to help him salvage Holland VI. Cable conceived of a way to drive electrical current through the armatures to develop internal heat, eventually drying out the equipment well enough to enable the workers to repair the boat. Cable returned to Philadelphia, but his brief experience with the submarine intrigued him, and he shortly thereafter became Holland’s chief electrician. Cable also became Holland VI’s civilian commander before the U.S. Navy commissioned her as Holland on 12 October 1900. He never entered military service but carried the title of captain throughout the remainder of his life.

Frank Cable
Cable displays a stern countenance in this picture taken late in his life. (Frank Cable (AS-40), Ships History, Naval History and Heritage Command)

As Holland’s associate, Cable specialized in the design and production of propulsion machinery, including diesel engines and electric motors. He became one of the founders of Electric Boat Co., and trained American, British, and Russian submarine crewmen. During his later years, he could recount entertainingly the many trials and tribulations that beset the Navy’s early boats and their intrepid sailors. In 1902, he supervised the construction of five submarines in England.

In 1909, Electric Boat decided to produce its own diesel engines for the submarines the company built. Cable again traveled to Europe to see how and where they were constructed. On returning, he was given the responsibility of selecting a site for a diesel engine manufacturing plant. After months of searching, he recommended the site of the former Eastern Shipbuilding Co., in Groton, Conn. The New London Ship & Engine Co., was thus organized, and, about a year later, became a subsidiary of Electric Boat. The parent company subsequently took over the plant and expanded to turn out submarines for the Navy, from keel laying to delivery. Cable and his wife lived in New London until his death on 21 May 1945. He is buried at Gaylordsville Cemetery in New Milford, Conn.

(AS-40: displacement 22,978; length 644; beam 85'; draft 26'; speed 20 knots; complement 1,351; armament 4 20 millimeter guns and 2 40 millimeter grenade launchers; class Emory S. Land)

Frank Cable (AS-40) was laid down on 2 March 1976 at Seattle, Wash., by Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction Co.; launched on 14 January 1978; sponsored by Mrs. Rose S. Michaelis, wife of Adm. Frederick H. Michaelis, Chief of Naval Material; and was commissioned on 29 October 1979 at Seattle, Capt. Gerald E. Green in command.

Korean Air Flight 801, a Boeing 737-300 en route from Seoul-Kimpo International Airport, South Korea, to Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport near Hagåtña (Agana), Guam, crashed while on approach to the latter airport on 6 August 1997, killing 228 people on board and injuring all 26 survivors. Heavy rain and the rugged terrain impeded rescue efforts, but crewmembers from Frank Cable -- forward deployed to Apra Harbor -- worked alongside other rescue workers during the tragedy.

Compounding the disaster that year, Typhoon Paka narrowly passed north of Guam a week before Christmas. The tempest’s strong winds destroyed about 1,500 homes and rendered nearly 5,000 people homeless, and left many others without power. Frank Cable’s ship’s company again rose to the occasion and her historian reported that they “played a large part in the recovery and clean-up efforts.”

During the tense days following the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on 9/11, Frank Cable provided valuable support to U.S. ships and submarines. Guam served as an important link in the chain of coalition cross-Pacific flights. In addition, guided missile cruiser Cowpens (CG-63) steamed from Fleet Activity (FA) Yokosuka, Japan, for Guam, to protect the island with her SPY-1 and Aegis systems, providing radar early warning and defense, supplemented by a USMC AN/TPS-59 air radar system ashore, from 15 September–15 October 2001.

As Frank Cable crewmembers performed routine preventive maintenance checks on safety valves, two of her No. 1 Boiler superheater support tubes ruptured and released superheated steam into the fire box, while the ship lay moored at Alpha Wharf, Apra Harbor, at approximately 1930 on 1 December 2006. The steam pressure in the fire box and uptakes escaped into the fireroom when the transition piece above the economizer weld seam tore apart.

Some of the watchstanders attempted to escape by using the “normal, up, forward, and evacuation path,” but the intense heat drove them back. Other sailors (apparently) decided to risk the heat exposure rather than risk exiting via the only escape trunk, which was closer to the source of the steam. All five of the 14 sailors in the fireroom who chose to escape via the normal route suffered severe injuries.

Eight sailors suffered injuries, six of them critically. Forty-two-year-old Chief Machinist’s Mate Delfin P. Dulay of Baguio City, Philippines, bravely shut down equipment before he left the fireroom, preventing further damage to the ship or casualties. Dulay incurred heavy burns in the process, and died while receiving treatment in the Burn Victim Center at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas, on 1 May. Twenty-year-old Machinery Repairman Fireman Jack B. Valentine also suffered severe burns and died on 7 December. The casualties were initially taken to Naval Hospital Guam, where the two less severely injured sailors were treated and released. The remaining six were flown to Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hi., where the nine-member Burn Special Medical Augmentation Response Team evaluated and treated them. The team then escorted the six people to Brooke.

Dulay, Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Robert Bruce II, Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Michael Lammey, and Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Matthew Bove received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal on 6 April. Bruce dedicated his award in Valentine’s memory. Altogether, 113 sailors subsequently received recognition for their heroism during that terrible day.

As submarine tender Emory S. Land (AS-39), Capt. Eric G. Merrill in command, visited Mina Salman, Bahrain, she struck a channel buoy, on 21 June 2011. The collision slightly damaged the submarine tender, which did not report casualties, but Rear Adm. Philip G. Sawyer, Commander Task Force 75/54, subsequently relieved Merrill of his command. Capt. Thomas P. Stanley, who had previously commanded Frank Cable, assumed temporary command of Emory S. Land.

Frank Cable (AS-40) 1979-111130-N-JB593-102
Machinery Repairman Fireman Darryl Dayrit of the ships company operates a gap lathe machine while Frank Cable assisted in repairing guided-missile submarine Ohio (SSGN-726), Polaris Point, Guam, 30 November 2011. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Delesia Buchanan, U.S. Navy Photograph 111130-N-JB593-102, Navy NewsStand)
Frank Cable (AS-40) 1979-111214-N-QY759-005
Submarine tender Emory S. Land (AS-39) (right) moors alongside submarine Houston (SSN-713) and Frank Cable at Polaris Point, 14 December 2011. Emory S. Land conducted an extended deployment in Guam to relieve Frank Cable temporarily as the Seventh Fleet’s primary maintenance ship. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class David R. Krigbaum, U.S. Navy Photograph 111214-N-QY759-005, Navy NewsStand)
Frank Cable (AS-40) 1979-111214-N-QY759-068
A unique port quarter view of Frank Cable suitably emphasizes her great size, Polaris Point, Guam, 14 December 2011. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class David R. Krigbaum, U.S. Navy Photograph 111214-N-QY759-068, Navy NewsStand)

Twenty-two-year-old Navy Diver 3rd Class Robert Dotzler of Kiel, Wisc., and assigned to the ships company died following a diving operation at Alpha Pier at Naval Base Guam on 19 June 2013. Fellow sailors pulled Dotzler from the water unconscious and he was transported to Naval Hospital Guam, where he was pronounced dead at 1127. The investigators summarized Dotzler’s death as “tragic” but concluded that his death was accidental and occurred in the line of duty.

In concluding his endorsement of the investigation, Capt. Nelson P. Hildreth, Frank Cable’s commanding officer, characterized Dotzler as a “dedicated sailor” who “served his country with pride and performed admirable work.” Dotzler had reported to Frank Cable in 2011. Prior to his assignment on Guam, he served at Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center, Fla. Earlier in his Navy career, Dotzler had been nominated for the Command Advancement Program, which recognizes stellar Sailors through meritorious advancement in rank. Hildreth added that Dotzler’s “strong professional contribution to both Frank Cable’s Dive Locker and the art of underwater husbandry will be sorely missed.”

Detailed history under construction.

Mark L. Evans

29 October 2015

Published: Fri Oct 30 11:02:07 EDT 2015